Winning with Content – How to Stay Competitive with Amazon This Holiday Season
As retailers gear up for the most important months of the year, there are a variety of factors kept top of mind throughout the planning and optimization stages of Holiday strategy. Arguably more than ever, this year has seen significant hurdles to growth in the retail ecosystem – including, mass retail store closings, more demanding and sophisticated consumer behaviors and attitudes, and a new era in competitive e-commerce – mainly from online behemoth, Amazon.
The ‘Everything for Everybody’?
While Amazon has been called the “everything for everybody” one-stop shop, it’s not quite elevated itself to the position of a true brand experience. If ease and convenience were some of the only things valued by consumers, it wouldn’t take much convincing to shepherd more shoppers onto the platform, and keep them there for the long term. But, brand stories are still meaningful in the eyes of today’s consumers – there’s no doubt that our audiences are changing, but values and behaviors continue to demonstrate a desire to connect, to interact with compelling visuals and video storytelling, and to aspire towards a lifestyle – and brands still live in that space.
Content is an avenue where brands can stay competitive with, and in many scenarios, even surpass Amazon’s influence. From tactical SEO and content discovery, to rich imagery, to tailored messaging, retailers can still have leverage this Holiday season and into the New Year if they employ smart content marketing strategies as part of their overall playbook.
So, how can brands win with great content experiences this Holiday season, and stay competitive with Amazon? Here are some of our top tactics and recommendations:
It’s All About a Compelling, Informative Customer Experience
- Marketing of proprietary merchandise – Consider how to entice shoppers with unique product, like a special edition or “brand.com offer only” that they can’t get elsewhere. Even if you’re selling direct on Amazon, a careful strategy around product distribution can enable revenue streams from all angles. You might consider keeping your most popular, or special edition items that require a unique buying experience within your direct brand properties, and sell other more basic items through other e-comm platforms like Amazon.
- Highlighting unique selling propositions – Beyond creating excitement around your products, make sure that customers know you offer convenience and time-saving solutions like “Buy online, pick up in store” or free returns. You may even consider including these offers on individual product pages to make sure it’s clearly communicated to visitors of your website.
- Creating stickier sites with rich content – When people go to your site over a platform like Amazon, they’re looking to have a rich brand experience, and they’re looking for storytelling around your products that they can’t get within the in-store environment. Customers are also looking for community input when it comes to products, which makes leveraging product reviews and user generated content (UGC) critical to how people experience your brand. You might even find it helpful to scan Amazon for product reviews, to identify the gaps in product information or other content that customers are looking for.
Other informational content, like how-to’s and FAQ’s can get your customers’ most important questions answered, creating more trust and reliability around your product.
Lately, Amazon has gotten much savvier about onsite content and storytelling, with different product groupings such as, “The Ultimate Fall Shoe Guide” and “What to Pack: Rustic Getaway”. While this is a step in the right direction for Amazon, where brands can win is with the stories and experiences they’re creating on product pages, and throughout the entire site. Additionally, never under-estimate the power of high-quality creative and design, which is also something Amazon has not yet mastered.
- Enabling meaningful customer experiences and interactions – A great site and content experience today often means providing real-time, sometimes one on one customer assistance – it’s why we’ve seen the greater emergence of chatbots across websites and social media. While it might seem like a basic component, seamless site navigation is also a major consideration for customers browsing and shopping your site (something Amazon hasn’t won in yet).
An understanding of audience attributes and challenges should guide your site content. You may consider a product recommendation engine (suggested products based on personal tastes or previous purchases), and targeted messaging that appeals to different niche customer audiences. These more personalized interactions can be enabled through immersive social content experiences that are connected to your site, or live Q&As.
Meaningful content experiences may come outside the direct realm of products, in the form of storytelling around brand values. While products are important to your customer’s journey, building relationships and brand affinity often happens by connecting with customers about the things they truly care about, like sustainability or different causes, for example.
- Optimizing for local – Google gives local businesses more weight in its rankings when it knows someone is searching for a business with a physical location nearby. Build out your Google local listings with as much helpful content as possible, and take advantage of Google Posts, where you can consider featuring a special in-store offer.
- Building longer form content – Today, 70% of search traffic is long tail, but most retailers still focus on the top 10-20% of keywords. Particularly as customer behavior shifts more towards voice-activated search methods, having a handle on long form, conversational content in Search is crucial. Think about the phrases customers might use during product exploration and shopping, like, “How to choose the right size bike for my child,” or “Gift ideas for the outdoor adventurist”.
- Leveraging Amazon.com for content ideation – Amazon is a data gold mine! Don’t forget to leverage Amazon Suggest (similar to Google Suggest) to better understand what phrases customers are searching for on the site – it’s a great way to discover content ideas and keyword modifiers. These results indicate high purchase intent and therefore, high quality opportunities for your ecommerce site in terms of net new content or optimization of existing site content. Additionally, you may want to analyze high performing category and product pages (especially top sellers!) on Amazon for content optimization learnings. And lastly, leverage user reviews to better understand how people are speaking naturally about a product, and to identify key motivators and challenges that can be leveraged within your product and category pages.